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By midlandsmovies, Dec 16 2018 12:34PM



Bee-Loved (2018)


Bee-Loved is a new short Midlands film from local directors Sarah Wynne Kordas and James Pyle and is a loving homage to the slapstick black and white silent comedies of the past.


We open on a janitor cleaning a corridor outside a room labelled “Director” which owing to some wet paint ends up being plastered on his own back in a Pepé Le Pew-style farce.


Akin to the premise of that cartoon, there is a story of unrequited love here too as the “smitten” man follows a passing woman as she strolls down the corridor. However, like the skunk himself, this man's affections are turned down despite his offer of a flower – which wilts in disappointment.


Using the silent film tropes of intertitles for dialogue and description, as well as a scratched celluloid aesthetic, the film authentically captures the period in its look and style.


The short moves forward as the woman applies make-up and the reversed “Director” paint imprinted on the janitors jacket appears to the woman via her small mirror. Seizing an opportunity to impress this apparent head-honcho she returns to the man.


The silent era motifs continue with suitably archaic fonts for the titles and the cinematography has a used vignette filter taking us back to the look of the classic films of the period.


However, the film spins off into unchartered territory. We’ve already mentioned old cartoons and it is at the halfway point it becomes a more surreal affair as an animated bee lands on the flower. With a mix of live action and animation we are whisked back to references of Gertie the Dinosaur whilst the bee seems heavily stylised on early Mickey Mouse and his Disney debut in Steamboat Willie.


The slapstick continues as the bee circles the two leads and the great original score by Midlands Movies Award-winner Pav Gekko is another fantastic nod to silly symphonic jazz soundtracks of a bygone time.


Similar to previous Midlands short Just Desserts – with some participants involved in both – the 3-minute short packs a lot heart and fun into its runtime. Bee-Loved also wears its love for the silliness of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin on its sleeve and combined with a unique animation style is a beloved love letter to the past.


Mike Sales



By midlandsmovies, Jun 20 2017 08:19AM

Just Desserts (2017)

Dir. Liam Banks


The latest offering from Superfreak Media is Just Desserts, a slapstick comedy short reminiscent of the silent films of the past.


Directed by Midlands filmmaker Liam Banks, Just Desserts plays out a night in a restaurant which is occupied by a man and his girlfriend, the waiter, a lone woman and a man who just wants his soup.


Watching this short reminded me of Charlie Chaplin’s early work or The Marx Brothers as the characters are exposed to physical comedy as a way to express their situation. The waiter struggles to keep his restaurant calm and serene as his customer’s private lives take centre stage.


The attention to detail and the clear effort gone into making this short is what really sells itself to the viewer. I was glued for the entire five-minute running time, appreciating every aspect of the production as well as enjoying watching a genre that doesn’t get enough exposure in the modern climate.


The cinematography and editing are evocative of those classic silent films, the grainy “old film reel” look of the film is consistent throughout the film and is one of my favourite elements of the film, whilst the editing employs the slightly sped up effect to emulate how early silent films were shown.


Complimenting what is shown visually is the original music by Pav Gekko which is a fantastic piece of music in its own right.


However, I don’t think the film would have been successful if the actors were not game. The cast, Adam Read, Melvyn Rawlinson, Steve Wood, Sarah Wynne Kordas (who also wrote the short) and Karen Best were professional and managed to keep a straight face throughout something I would have struggled to do!


Liam Banks, known mostly for his work in the Horror genre, shows that his talents are vast and can go beyond terrifying his audience, he can also make them laugh.


Guy Russell

By midlandsmovies, Apr 12 2017 07:42AM



BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM


Tom Lee Rutter, Director/Writer/Producer

Carnie Features


From the deepest darkest Black Country comes a new Midlands movie from local filmmaker Tom Lee Rutter. Described as a “pseudo-doc horror mystery” it concerns the urban legend of the locally famous Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm story.


Hagley 1943 is our location and time, and a voice-over introduces the film and sets the scene. The 30-minute short has been edited in post-production to look similar to old films with added scratches, the flickering lighting of an aged projection and is also shot in stark monochrome. Inserts of static pictures of the Birmingham Star further cement its use of styles from way back in the past, as well as its regional connections.


Taking a whole year to complete, it celebrates the dark heart of the Midlands as a group of young boys in a forest uncover a human skull buried deep within a dirty tree. Originating from a little-known (outside the area it seems) folk tale, the legend has continued with strange graffiti which has appeared on the Hagley Obelisk near to where a body was found.


The boys mention their discovery to no one and the film veers from the historical version events – it is based on a real investigation – and suggests there was a more mysterious element to the whole affair. This is just one of many theories on how the skull came to be there, including the possibility of the natural AND supernatural.


In real-life the victim, whose murder was estimated to have occurred in 1941, remains unidentified but Rutter takes a very interesting premise and turns it into much more than the tale itself.


Some special effects include a mix of simple makeup and spooky transitions which were fine but what worked far better was the old-style “juddery” model effects which, again, was a superb nod to past movie-making techniques. This is further buoyed up by the liberal use of photos and etchings from the bygone era.


One area of improvement could be the sound. In an attempt to recreate the aural styling of an old vinyl record the filmmaker has added suitable after-effects but the quality did not quite work for me and could do with some EQ-ing and further post-production.


An eerie string score is far better however and much of the film is dialogue free – again, harking back to the silent shorts of the era. I would also have preferred a shorter run time as the story is slight and could be tightened up in editing.


That said, you can clearly tell Rutter has a keen interest in this fable and the film is a mix of fact, fiction and theory about the local story itself. A passion project in all senses, the short is a unique look at an esoteric and obscure slice of history and is as much documentary in parts as it is an imaginary tale.


Rutter has tried to use multiple effects to recreate archaic techniques with a different look to most mainstream Midlands films. Yet despite its length, the director has infused the film with imagination, artistry and resourceful skill to tell a tall tale of murkiness and intrigue. A dark delight.


Midlands Movies Mike


By midlandsmovies, Dec 31 2016 11:32AM

A Real Peach is a noir inspired Midlands short


Midlands Movies showcases new crime-noir film “A Real Peach” which has an unusual origin story that happened more by accident than by design.


The story of the short starts with Raya Films and their film “Do Something, Jake”. In that feature, the protagonist Jake watches old black and white movies so the filmmakers came up with a unique way of avoiding rights issues by filming their own film-within-a-film.


Screenwriter Caroline Spence decided that if they were going to go to the trouble of producing clips reminiscent of the 1940s noir era, they could edit them together to make a short film and subsequently “A Real Peach” was born.


Made in the Quorn/Loughborough area Leicestershire, the film uses the tropes of the genre with covert meetings, a murdered tenant, a dangerous criminal and some thoroughly dashing chaps - all unwittingly linked by 'a real peach' of a plan.



Originally comprised of seven separate vignettes, the extra black and white footage inserted into the feature was influenced by Caroline Spence’s love of the genre.

"I grew up watching a lot of movies from the '30s and ‘40s," explains Caroline, "so it was fun shaping the characters and recreating movie dialogue of the era. Many of the character names are taken from some of my favourite films from Mrs Muir (1947) and The Cat and The Canary (1939) as well as some iconic actors of the day like Vivien (Leigh) and Rex (Harrison)”.

Shot in just in one day at Quorn Village Hall with zero budget, the short benefited greatly from period costumes organised by theatre director Sharon Scott. Add to that lighting and cinematography from Nick Williams, direction from James Smith, and original score by Nikolas Labrinakos, the producers achieved their goal of recreating a classic crime noir look that feels as if it was shot circa 1939.



A Real Peach's teaser trailer can be viewed above and is already out to film festivals whilst Do Something, Jake is scheduled for release Summer 2017.

For further information

Visit the Raya Films website at www.rayafilms.com

MDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5815932

Twitter: @rayafilms @cspenceproducer




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